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Oxford Stories: Ole Miss Student Creates Snapchat Filters, Graphic Design For Cash

Ellen Spies enjoys graphic design.

In primary school, students spend much of their time creating and designing arts and crafts. The excitement of being able to have fun and learn as a child, especially by creating projects with your imagination, was priceless and enjoyable.

For junior, Ellen Spies, the excitement of using your own creativity to create projects stuck with her. The San Antonio native has a passion for graphic design.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I have always enjoyed creating things,” she said. “I used to get on my computer all the time to do graphic design.”

Spies loved graphic design so much she shared her passion with others. “I would create paintings for all my friends,” she said.

Spies carried her passion for graphic design into her employment with The Daily Mississippian, Rebel Radio and NewsWatch by creating ads for the student media center.

“A girl in my sorority told me about a great opportunity and believed I would be best for the job because of my desire for graphic design,” she said.

Spies is a hard worker, which makes her a good graphic designer. “Part of being able to do graphic design is you have to be a dedicated worker and take your time, but have fun at the same time.”

Despite having fun, Spies admits graphic design is not always easy. “I run into challenges every day at work while creating ads,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like my ads can be too much or do not have enough in them.”

Like any other student with goals, Spies is optimistic to solve any obstacle she may encounter while doing graphic design. “Sometimes the programs are hard to use, and I have to teach myself how to use them by watching tutorial videos online,” she said.

Students and the Oxford community come alive during football season. For most, the Square is a jungle of social events and gatherings that people attend before, after, or during football games. Spies creates ads for various bars and restaurants on the Square for the student media center.

“It’s fun, because sometimes I get to make ads for my favorite places,” she said. “It’s nice because I know which bars and restaurants have the best deals.”

One of her favorite ads from the 2016 fall semester is one she created for the Ole Miss vs. Florida State football game in Orlando, Florida. She is a major football fan, but, sadly, could not attend the game.

“I was sad I wasn’t able to go, and even sadder we lost,” she said.

Despite being a little upset, Spies expressed her feelings for the game by using her graphic design passion to create a football ad for one of her favorite bars, The Library.

“I was excited because the ad was for the football game, so I knew I had to come up with something good,” she said.

Spies’ roommate, junior Anna Johnson, said Spies is creative. “She makes most of the decorations for our house,” she said.

This wasn’t the first time Spies has made decorations for friends. “When I was a freshman, I would paint paintings on pieces of wood or canvas for my friends,” she said. “They were in high demand at one point. I had to charge a little bit extra because I was running out of supplies. My favorite paintings were ones I made for sorority members. This is where I first realized that I could actually do something with graphic design because I was making money off of it.”

Because of her creativity, Johnson believes Spies is perfectly suited for a future in graphic design.

“I tell her all the time how good of a job she does,” Johnson said.  “It makes me happy to see her succeed as well as she has by doing something she loves.”

Johnson believes Spies’ graphic design obsession has rubbed off on her. “I catch myself doing a little extra when it comes to creativity,” she said. “I used to sketch pictures on a notebook when I was a little girl, and now that (she) is always being so artsy, I have started to doodle again here and there.”

Spies also uses her creativity to decorate parties for her friends’ birthday events. “She decorated our entire house for our other roommate’s 21st birthday,” Johnson said. “Our house was full of ribbons, balloons, a photo booth, and a lot of fun and creative ideas. [Spies] is very talented.”

Spies also designs Snapchat filters for her friends’ special functions. “Starting this year, I began to make Snapchat filters for my friends,” she said. “Snapchat is popular among teenagers and young adults, so I figured I could make a little profit for myself by using my creativity. Making Snapchat filters is one of my favorite projects that I have done with graphic design.”

Spies said pursuing a job in graphic design is a goal she has dreamed about since discovering her passion for it.

“I want to become a freelance designer when I become older,” she said. “It is my dream job. I think creating logos or various designs for major companies and corporations would be so much fun.”

Mac Hinojos can be reached at jmhinojo@go.olemiss.edu. Read more stories like this on Oxford Stories.

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